It depends on whether you want to cook or not at Ides, and whether 'cooking' means 'fussing with a campfire' or 'bringing some sort of camp stove.' We all like camping a ton
more now that there are a couple $30 single-burner propane stoves floating around the unit. Not having to worry about firewood is great.
For meals, anything carb-based is going to be cheaper than anything meat-based (bread? noodles? potatoes? rice!), and meat stews are always cheaper than 'everyone gets a chunk of meat' dinners. Eggs are a cheap protein (breakfast!). Last Rag we ate a ton of stir fries and curry, since brown rice is a very inexpensive basis for a meal and a good way to get yourself out of the post-fighting "I don't want to eat anything because my blood sugar is low" slump.
If you don't have any cooking equipment (like so many college-dorm'd fighters), you can cook stuff on sticks (chili dogs are cheap, kebabs are fun) or in tinfoil (I mean, c'mon, foil dinners? The best
). Anything that calls itself a 'one pot dinner' should be easy. I like to have bread and apples in camp in case the meal doesn't go far enough.
New folks often eat badly their first campout because they underestimate their needs. You will be tired and hungry, and living off a can of Spaghettios and a Poptart can do you more harm than good. Snacks like apples, granola, peanuts, baby carrots, or beef jerky are better choices in the long run!
Prep work is your friend: trying to find a surface to chop vegetables on after dark at a campout sucks
, so cut, cook, unpackage, and season everything
you possibly can while you're at home. You'll haul less equipment and get to spend less time fussing over your dinner. In the past, we've pre-cooked mashed potatoes for shepherd's pie, baked bread (cheaper than buying), cooked handheld meat pies (awesome for the first night you get there-- no one wants to cook while they're setting up tents and meeting people!), fixed up the meat and other stuff for tacos, and way more
Be pessimistic about how long it takes to cook your food and plan accordingly, and bring back-up food in case it pours the night you were planning to cook over the fire. (This is why prepared food is great: if you pre-cook and pre-season your taco meat, you don't have
to heat it if it's storming. If you can't swing this, pack extra snacks). Similarly, stuff that's easy in your kitchen (like draining spaghetti or stirring a pot that's heating) can be vastly more difficult over a fire.
The first evening at the site can be chaotic between setting up the tent and running around meeting people, so we plan not
to cook that night, or to opt for something really easy. It's a good night to do sandwiches or hot dogs. Having food to share the first night can be a good way to meet new people, too!
And... I have no idea how helpful that was. Between former Girl Scout-y-ness and being the sort of whose brain is prone to going wonky when improperly nourished, campfire food is a Thing with me-- but perhaps I didn't communicate anything useful! Sirilay, Dominick, Ketch, and Athelas would be great people to ask, I bet.In conclusion: Rice. Laziness. Snacks. More laziness.